Q. I am 34 and my mother had breast cancer. Should I start mammography screening when I reach 40 or should I start sooner?
A. Talk to your doctor about when you should start screening, and if additional methods of screening are right for you. In general, you will want to start screening mammography no later than ten years before the age of the earliest diagnosis in the family (but not earlier than age 25 and not later than age 40). So if your mother was diagnosed at age 45, you should start screening at age 35.
Q. My breasts are very sensitive and I found it too painful to get through a regular mammogram. Are there any other options open to me?
A. Yes. While mammography remains the starting point for all breast diagnostics, some women feel they cannot tolerate the compression needed for a mammogram. For those women, screening with breast MRI is an option. Partners has the only FDA approved dedicated breast MRI modality, the Aurora MRI. We continue to recommend mammography as it may detect some early cancers that are not picked up with MRI.
Q. I came to your Sarasota facility for a mammogram and I subsequently heard from my doctor that you wanted to me to come to your Breast Diagnostic Center for a diagnostic exam. I am worried that I may have breast cancer. Is this likely?
A. No, most recalls turn out to be normal. Sometimes an area is seen that needs evaluation with additional mammographic views that are not included in a routine screening exam, and /or an ultrasound. Five to 15 percent of screening mammograms require such additional testing . Most of these tests turn out to be normal. The chance of being called back for additional testing increases if we don’t have prior exams for comparison. A normal breast looks different for each woman, and change over time is an important way to detect abnormalities in the breast. If there is an abnormal finding with additional diagnostic testing, a follow-up or biopsy may be needed. ________________________________________________________________________________________________
Q. I feel a lump on one of my breasts. What should I do?
A. You should consult with your physician right away so that the lump can be examined. If your physician determines that you need a diagnostic exam, we can evaluate you at Partners Breast Diagnostic Center. This generally includes a diagnostic mammogram and/ or breast ultrasound. Call us at 757-1044 to schedule your appointment. ________________________________________________________________________________________________
Q. My doctor gave me a script for a breast MRI and suggested that I go to the local hospital, but I couldn’t get on their schedule for a week. Can you help me?
A. Yes. Partners will accept your doctor’s perscription even though it is made out to the hospital. You have the right to decide where you want to be scanned. We can also book you in within 48 hours or less (depending on insurance and if an authorization is required). Please call our office for available times.
Q. Does it cost more for breast imaging at a hospital compared to your facility?
A. Most hospitals will have significantly higher out of pocket costs to the patient compared to the Partners Breast Diagnostic Center. In addition, the fees that hospitals charge are not always transparent or easy to determine. There are often separate fees and bills from the hospital for the equipment, facility, materials, etc. and other fees and bills from the radiologist interpreting the exam or performing a procedure. You can do your own comparison by calling the hospital to determine the total costs of your exam. Then, call our insurance experts to determine what you will be paying, with or without insurance. You will be surprised at the difference.